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In 2008, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed the âLouisiana Science Education Actâ into law. This Orwellian-named bit of legislation was an outrageous attempt to allow creationism to be taught in schools. Jindal has essentially admitted as much.
Since then, Zack Kopplin (a 19-year-old Rice University student) has been fighting to get it repealed. Heâs had a lot of help: Louisiana State Senator Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans), 78 Nobel laureates, the city council of New Orleans, and Slate magazine. And many more, including me (many many many times). Even the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute thinks itâs a terrible law. Because it is.
But every time a bill is put forth to repeal this awful law, it fails. Kopplin and his team tried againâfor the third timeâlast week. And Louisiana politicians decided, once again, that their personal beliefs trump the United States Constitution.
The repeal failed. The law stands.
But thereâs more. Hereâs why one legislator voted against the repeal, and, well, itâs a stunner. I hope your desk has a padded top, because otherwise your forehead is going to hurt a lot:
Sen. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, said he had reservations with repealing the act after a spiritual healer correctly diagnosed a specific medical ailment he had. He said he thought repealing the act could "lock the door on being able to view ideas from many places, concepts from many cultures."
âYet if I closed my mind when I saw this manâin the dust, throwing some bones on the ground, semi-clothedâif I had closed him off and just said, âThat's not science. I'm not going to see this doctor,â I would have shut off a very good experience for myself,â Guillory said.
Seriously? I mean seriously, seriously?
You should note this well: The repeal lost in a 3-2 vote. Senator Guilloryâs vote wouldâve been enough to swing the decision the other way. Instead, a half-naked guy threw bones on the ground and probably cold read Guillory, and because of that, in Louisiana it will still be perfectly legal to teach all manners of nonsense instead of giving children a real science education.
Thatâs more than disgraceful. Itâs embarrassing.
Senator Guillory, here is the reality of what you saw, and it pertains to creationism as well: It really wasn't science. It may be belief, it may be religion, it may even be an outright con, but of all the things it is, as you yourself said, itâs not science, and it shouldnât be taught in science class. Your vote was wrong. It was wrong on the evidence, it was wrong for the children of Louisiana, and it was wrong for the state of Louisiana.
This is bad news, but thereâs some light: Iâll note that the repeal does better every time itâs submitted; it lost 5-1 the first time, and 2-1 the second. This third time, it was rejected at 3-2. Thatâs progress, and Kopplin promises to try yet again. Still, for now, itâs a loss. And the victims of this loss will be the futures of the children in Louisiana.
â¦and if you do happen to know of people who make medical diagnoses by âthrowing some bones on the groundâ, then you should let them know they can win a million bucks if they can demonstrate it under testable conditions. Maybe the Louisiana State Senate doesnât put their trust in evidence and science, but I do. And Iâll bet that million is quite safe.
My thanks to Zack Kopplin, who is tireless and unflagging in his fight against nonsense and antiscience. If this event makes you as angry as it does me, then please go to his site, RepealCreationism, and help out. Americans United is also a great group fighting this kind of unconstitutional chicanery.